Harder push for faster broadband speeds in California

23 April 2015 by Steve Blum
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California should raise its minimum standard for broadband, CPUC commissioner Catherine Sandoval said during yesterday’s meeting of the California Broadband Council in Sacramento. The goal “is to the increase the minimum speed that counts as served in California to mirror the FCC’s speed of 25 mbps down and 3 up”, she said. “I think it’s imperative that the state amend its definition”. Sandoval said she’ll be working to do that via existing California Public Utilities Commission processes, and also pointed to a bill sponsored by Santa Cruz legislator Mark Stone – assembly bill 238 – that would do the same thing.

Stone’s bill is on a two-year track now – negotiations to finalise the bill’s language didn’t come together in time to make this year’s deadline – but raising the minimum broadband service level that’s acceptable for Californians is on the table in the state capitol as well as at the CPUC. Carlos Ramos, chief information officer for the state government and the new chair of the council, questioned whether specific numbers should be baked into law. Sandoval said that standards should track with changing needs. “We certainly agree that it shouldn’t be 25/3 and then you need new legislation. There needs to be flexibility”.

Yesterday’s meeting was a reboot for the California Broadband Council. Sandoval is the CPUC’s new representative, replacing departed president Michael Peevey. Sunne Wright McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, is the sole returning principal member. Sandoval and McPeak were joined by assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D – Los Angeles) and senator Ben Hueso (D – San Diego), chairs of the assembly and senate utilities committees, as well as Ramos and staff representatives from several state department